With limited funds from our EETT/ARRA grant, we just barely scratched purchasing 60 Dell 2100s, 3 of the specially made carts ($3,500 each!), projectors, document cameras, and professional development. After this, we will could not afford the extra $3,000 to purchase MS Office for all the netbooks. And truthfully, I personally did not want to do that. Yes, Open Office looks a little different, but in all reality, we made a great choice skipping this purchase. It took my instructional folks a little bit of time until they were comfortable with it, but now they understand it and can use it confidently. I anticipate some learning curves with the teachers when the carts are delivered as well. Students? Nah, they will pick it up with no problem and make the point moot. I really hope this can lead us to some serious discussions in moving forward. When we look at the 3,000+ computers in our district, the thought of paying $50.00 each for an Office upgrade, at a total of at least $150,000, does not appeal too much to me. So let’s see, that is 150 desktops we could purchase. 150 SMART Boards. 20 SMART Tables. 100 sets of ‘clickers,’ the student response systems. You get the point. At this point, though, I am just happy to have the leg in the door to move the discussion forward.
What else did we put on the 2100s? With the integrated webcam and microphone, Audacity was a no brainer. We envision teachers and students creating animated movies, podcasts, and more with those. Photostory went on them as well, and while not an open source product, it is a free app available for Windows. And that’s pretty much the end of the apps installed. I would like to look at Alice in the future. Allowing students to create their own ‘games’ in place of a Powerpoint would be a great thing as well. We also will rely heavily on many of the web apps out there. We use Wordle in our district, as well as VoiceThread and Animoto. They all provide great interaction for students. So that pretty much sums up our 2100s. Now we will put them out in the schools and see how the teachers use them. Time will tell if we add any more applications, or how these ones work, but we will let you know!